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Death Parade: A Review

Towards the end of my summer internship, I had around 2 weeks worth of holidays left before school started and I was keen on occupying myself, so I asked for anime recommendations. The first 3 I was to watch was: Tiger and Bunny, Death Parade, My Hero Academia.

It may be a little odd that I'm talking about the second anime I'm watching first, but a few reasons: it's sandwiched between two hero-based animes, so the themes are quite different - after all Death Parade can get a little gory and depressing - so that's my warning if you are intending to watch it!

Interestingly, the original concept was from Madhouse's short film contribution to the Young Animator Training Project, an annual project which supports training animators. The short film was called Death Billiards, and it was then made into an anime series, Death Parade, consisting of 12 episodes in total. There's even a post on the blog already which gives more details about Death Billiard's debut at Anime Mirai.

I notice that the opening song is more cheerful and uplifting compared to the actual anime itself!

The episode often starts with people being brought to the scene, but they do not remember what happened that led them to their current premise. In order to get out of where they were, they have to stake their lives on a game.

Throughout the series the games are shown to be on either extremes - either ones that are peaceful or provoke violence. One thing in common with all the games are that people's memories will gradually be returned as they progress with the game.

We are first shown Quindecim - a bar run by Decim, a seemingly stoic arbiter of souls who have passed on. His superior, Nona, then introduces a girl - who would be his assistant in judgments.

This series is particularly intriguing in its concept of the afterlife, and also how they portray the reactions and emotions of various people from various backgrounds. Imagine being told that you are unable to leave this dark, rather gloomy and suspicious place until you have played a game, which will be "randomly" selected by a roulette. This struck fear in the hearts of many people, with some attempting to find their way out of the place, but always to no avail.

It may start off dark, but there are also amusing and light-hearted moments in store. The arbiters, as compared to the humans, are having a relatively more relaxed time even if their jobs may seem to be tedious at times. For one, they do not function the same way as humans, but do take interest in human items and take on forms of various kinds of humans. Other things that stand out to me would be how Decim and the girl worked, their relationship, and how the series ended.

The ending contains elements of despair and frustration that struck close to home, which resulted in me shedding tears over it. However you interpret it, I think that, and the series as a whole, sends a message - life in itself is a precious and wonderful thing to have despite what one may think.

Of course, the ending is not meant to counsel one how to lead their lives, since to each their own - but it does make one reflect on certain things. Exactly what, I will leave to your interpretation, but I see them as quite important issues. In short, I'm glad to have been introduced to a beautiful and thought-provoking series (though perhaps I should have watched it when I was in a better state of mind. :T)

Rating: 8.5/10


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